Karachi Photo Blog

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Parliament of Poets, in Fremont

An excellent 'Parliament of poets' program at Agha Saeed's residence, on Sunday, August 21. Kanwal Feroze, Rakhshinda Naveed, and Irfan Ahmad read their poetry.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Same data, different results

Same data, different results

How often a club established to promote Urdu language, conducts its meeting in English?  How often do you see a moderator painstakingly develop a certain theme of a literary evening only to be refuted later, the carefully crafted theme torn to pieces by the person presiding over the literary sitting?
You should have attended the last meeting of the Urdu Academy of North America to see the anomalies.

The Poets of ‘Partition’
The Urdu Academy of North America holds its monthly meeting on every third Sunday of the month at the Chandni Restaurant in Newark, California.
The July meeting of the Urdu Academy was moderated in English by Dr. Priya Satia, a history professor.  The poetry recitations by various Urdu Academy regulars were woven around a slide show presentation based on an over 10,000 words long write-up titled ‘The Poets of Partition’ written by Dr. Satia.   Dr. Satia's article originally appeared online, in January of this year.  An earlier presentation of 'Poets of Partition' took place on March 20, 2016 in Atherton.
The presentation given by Dr. Satia in the July 17 meeting of the Urdu Academy of North America implied that from Faiz’s ‘Dasht e Tanhaee’ to Sahir’s ‘Chaklay’, poetry of most of the Urdu poets writing around 1947 was in opposition to the ‘partition.’  Some in the audience just smiled at the incredible implication, others listened passively, but Dr. Khwaja Mohammad Zakariya presiding over the meeting was less charitable. At the end of the presentation when he was asked to speak, Dr. Zakariya said he had spent time with several poets mentioned in Satia’s presentation, and Satia was reading too much into their poetry; the results she drew were wrong. Yes, the poets of that era didn’t like the violence associated with the 1947 events, but no they did not want to see a ‘unified’ India.

The P Word
It seems the Indian and Pakistani scholars have very different views about what happened in 1947.  The Indian and Indian-descent scholars call the cataclysm of 1947, the ‘partitioning of India’, implying there was a millennia old country called India that was partitioned by the wily British when the colonial masters left South Asia. 
To the Pakistani scholars this very idea of ‘Partition of India’ reeks of the ‘Akhand Bharat’ theme.  For the scholars on this side of the border the British India was an artificial political entity bundled together for the administrative convenience of the colonial masters; that at the conclusion of the colonial rule a political restructuring took place and India and Pakistan came into being. 
Yes, the British Indian province of Punjab and Bengal were partitioned during the political re-structuring, but no ‘partitioning’ of India took place in 1947 as the Union of India came into being as a result of the events of that year.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Urdu Culture Show 2016 at UC Berkeley

Photos from the 2016 Urdu Culture Show at the UC Berkeley (held on April 2)

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Remembering Ibn-e-Insha and Nasir Kazmi

Remembering Ibn-e-Insha and Nasir Kazmi

What attracts the South Asian diaspora?  Urdu poetry does. Two separate organizers in the San Francisco Bay Area holding frequent literary meetings on Urdu poetry and filling up the halls, is the proof of the assertion. Who attends these meetings?  Does the Bay Area have that many people from UP, Bihar, Hyderabad (Andhra), and UP’s largest city in Pakistan, Karachi?  Not really.  Only a small number of attendees speak Urdu as their first language.  These meetings are attended by people from all over South Asia--from South India to Kashmir, all using that language as a tool of communication when engaging with other linguistic groups.

On Sunday, February 28, over 200 people attended a literary program held to remember the lives and arts of Ibn-e-Insha and Nasir Kazmi.  The program, arranged and emceed by Urdu teacher Hamida Banu Chopra, was sponsored by Ashraf Habibullah of CSI (Computers and Structures, Inc.).
Anshuman Chandra, Veeny, Atiya Hai, Salman Siddique, Anil Chopra, Ravi aka Khurshid, Ashraf Habibullah, Surender Chibbar, and Dipti Bhatnagar recited poems of the two poets.  Professor Nabeela Kiani presided over the literary meeting held at the India Community Center, Milpitas, and read a short paper on South Asian society’s capacity to absorb rebels, heretics, and perceived loonies.


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

How is the Baloch insurgency being funded?

How is the Baloch insurgency being funded?

Pakistani establishment is quick to point fingers at the Indian security agencies for funding the current insurgency in Balochistan.  On the other hand Baloch leaders deny they are getting any help from outside. So what’s the scoop? Idealogical motivation is definitely not enough to carry on a fight hiding in the mountains, or being on the run in urban centers—you still need to eat, and buy arms and ammunition in the black market.  Where’s the money trail then? The answer can be found in the story of two young Czech tourists kidnapped in Balochistan by armed men in March 2013.  Their release was made possible in March 2015 after the Czech government allegedly paid six million US dollars to a group in Afghanistan that was keeping the two tourists captive.  The Czech government negotiated with the captors through the Turkish NGO Insani Yardim Vakfi operating in the Taliban dominated areas of Afghanistan.  It is almost certain that the group that negotiated the ransom was not the original abductor. In all likelihood, the tourists were kidnapped by a Baloch group in the Baloch dominated Nok Kundi area of the Chaghi district.  Since the release of the tourists was apparently made possible in Afghanistan, it is not hard to understand that after kidnapping the two tourists the original perpetrators sold the two women to a group more skilled in negotiating ransoms—eventually both Baloch and Taliban groups profited from the ransom deal.
Kidnappings for ransom, drugs, and human trafficking are the industries that are providing money for the two active armed struggles in that region.

Photo, courtesy of AFP

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Saturday, January 30, 2016

Disapproving aggression in a very violent society

Disapproving aggression in a very violent society

‘Ho KyoN Tabiyyat Mein Changezi’ (Why should one have an aggressive temperament), an Urdu book of religious material, personal experiences, and reflections was introduced on January 24 at the Pearl Continental Hotel in Karachi.  Around one hundred people attended the literary evening presided over by renowned Urdu poet Dr. Pirzada Qasim Raza Siddiqui.  Besides others the author of the book, Qazi Majid Ali Advocate, Mehmood Shaam and Abrar Hasan spoke at the occasion.  The program was emceed by Agha Masood.

Video of Abrar Hasan's speech is here:

Also see this relevant Urdu news:

 قاضی ماجد علی ایڈووکیٹ کی کتاب ہو کیوں طبیعت میں چنگیزی
آغا مسعود
ڈاکٹر پیرزادہ قاسم رضا صدیقی
ابرار حسن ایڈووکیٹ
محمود شام